How to Make a Training Plan Part 5: Logging your climbing and training

How to Make a Training Plan Part 5: Logging your climbing and training

I was recently at a gathering of climbing friends from my local gym and was greeted by some surprise patronization:

“I know you, you’re the girl with the journal!”

He was referring to my notebook. that I use for logging my training at the gym. It is where training data is recorded. It is NOT where I pen diary entries about Chris Sharma with his shirt off.
(but while we’re on the subject… here’s Chris Sharma with his shirt off. This one’s for you, ladies!)

Mr. Sharma’s splendid abdominals aside, my notebook is where I keep track of key data from training sessions. This includes things like how much weight I hang on my harness on the 15mm crimp and whether or not I nutted myself when I limit bouldered that day.

I write down everything that is relevant to my training session, so I can use it to improve in future sessions.

This lesson was taught to me via DVD four years ago during my Summer of P90X. I’m the words of esteemed fitness icon, Tony Horton:

“How are you going to know what to do, if you don’t know what you did?”

Tony was yelling this to you between of biceps curls to get you to record your sets. He had a point. It is important to know what you did so you can know how you can improve.

If you aren’t totally sold on being a notebook nerd in the gym yet, here’s a dose of wisdom from climbing trainer Steve Bechtel in his book, Logical Progression. 

…you’re going to refer back to your log frequently. This is not an optional aside to your training, but rather a guide. A few seasons into your training career, and it will be the most valuable piece of gear you own.

With that in mind, let’s get down to details. Here are some tips on how to take good notes on your training .

Tips and Examples:

Below are examples from my notebook of how I track different workouts. I really love this notebook from Amazon–the graph paper paper format makes it super easy to make tables, which I love.

My usual pile of things that I carry around when I boulder.

Example #1: Power Endurance Notation

So, in this workout I was doing a boulder problem on the minute every three minutes. I try to write down the color of the route for my reference so I know what I did the previous time. I also write down what sorts of holds the route has. Additionally, I write the grade in a separate column. I also give myself a quality or a “Q” score–basically how I felt about my attempt on a scale of 1-5. It doesn’t necessarily mean I finished the route, but it describes how well I felt I climbed. The “Q” score is a tip I stole from Logical Progression I also write some notes –this is especially helpful for remembering beta for next time.

Example 2: Notation for a hangboard/strength workout

This is a little more straight forward. I like to set up the table so that I have the exercise on the left with the set noted at the top. For exercises with variable resistance and duration (e.g. a deadlift, or a hangboard set, depending on if you are adding/subtracting weight), I put the number of reps at the top, and the resistance at the bottom, as you can see below. I also take notes in the column on the right!

Example #3: Endurance/ARC Tracking

Below is how i track an endurance day. I write the grade, if I went up and down the route or just down, and any notes. Usually, I climb up a specific route and down any holds available–noted as “rainbow”. For more information about ARC training, click here. 

Three reasons to track your climbing and training:

1. It will be helpful to know what you did in days, months, and years to come so that you can ensure you are improving–even if only incrementally.
2. By tracking your training you can gauge how many rest days you require before certain types of training (especially helpful when trying new types of training/strarting new programs).
3. If this season goes really well, you will want to know exactly why.

How do you track your training? Do you use an app? Have you ever tracked your training before?

If you want to discuss, leave a comment or send an email. I am happy to chat!

For links to parts 1-4 of the series, see below:

Part 1: Goal setting
Part 2: 6 key components of your training plan
Part 3: Block vs. Non-linear periodization
Part 4:  Fitting it all in – training, resting, and outdoor climbing

Have a great rest of your week!

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